A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

Archive for the ‘Multimedia’ Category

Moovly

Tool: Moovly

moovly logo (501x199)Ready for another free animated movie/storytelling creation tool? At this point, I don’t think it is necessary to expound on the merits of using this type of tool. You wouldn’t be following this blog if you needed convincing. So, let’s get right into the details of another great animated  movie maker called Moovly.

Just like any other free version of software, it is limited in what you can do as compared to their paid subscriptions, but what is offered in the gratis version is quite impressive. Here’s what you get:

  • 10 minutes of movie length (most free version of other companies give you 2 – 5 minutes for free)
  • Ability to create an unlimited number of videos, but only 1 at a time
  • Resolution is standard definition at 480p. For HD, you need to subcribe to a paid plan.
  • A library of animated graphics, including the “Doodle Marker” – the hand and marker animation that can write and draw
  • Ability to upload your own pictures, sounds, and voice overs
  • Ability to export your creations to YouTube and Facebook
  • An opportunity to earn free credits to purchase things like background music

Just like an of these animators, it takes time to get used to the editor and get good at creating videos. Moovly is quite intuative and pretty easy to learn. check out the video below to see how Moovly works. Please share your creations with us!

 

Click here if you cannot see the video below.

 

 

Adobe Voice

Tool: Adobe Voice

The bad news: Adobe Voice is an iPad only tool for digital storytelling.

The good news: Adobe Voice is an elegant, easy, and powerful tool for digital storytelling. And it is free.

While I typically shy away from recommending apps that are platform dependent, this one is too good to keep secret. Check out what Catholic author Jessie Bazan created at http://voice.adobe.com/v/IP5c8-3×845 using Adobe Voice.

If Dr. David Walsh is correct in saying, “Whoever tells the stories defines the culture,” and if we want to tell the Story of the Reign of God… and teach our learners to do so as well… I cannot think of a better tool than Adobe Voice, given its simplicity and effectiveness.

Adobe provides searchable libraries for photos, music, and icon-like graphics; and different structures to walk you and your learners through the process of planning and constructing different types of stories (like mini-storyboarding). You supply the story, the narrative, the text, and your own photos. Adobe Voice then puts it all together in video format and allows you to share your story in a number of ways, including saving the video to your iPad to further expand your sharing options.

Basically, you log into your free Adobe account and then:

  1. choose a type of story to tell, from a narrative to an invitation
  2. pick a design theme, which comes with background music (but you can change the tune)
  3. create a slide
  4. add text, photo or icon
  5. hold down a record button as you narrate a slide, then play it and re-record if you like
  6. repeat

Finally, you share the video in a number ways ways, now including saving it to your iPad where you have more options of sharing it. Plus, you can use other iPad video editing tools, like iMovie, to enhance the video further.

I created the following video off the cuff and in just a few minutes. Imagine what you and your learners can do with some foresight and planning.

 

I suggest downloading Adobe Voice from the iTunes store and trying it out. It will surely beat watching the dry tutorial I’ve created for you below in case you don’t have an iPad… yet.

 

Of course, as a catechist, there are many uses for Adobe Voice. You can create prayers to begin class, upload presentations to YouTube for a flipped classroom experience, or create an invitation to the parish festival… uploaded to Facebook. Since you can insert your own photos into a slide, you can even export a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, and turn it into a video with narration and music. What other ideas are you hatching for Adobe Voice that will help you and your learners to tell your faith story, the story of your parish… and indeed the Story of the Reign of God?

join.me

Budget. Return on investment. Value. Frequency of use. Ah, those pesky but necessary terms that help churches determine whether to make a purchase. The fact is, when investing in technology, these are very real things to think about. This is why finding solutions that may not be super feature rich, yet meet your needs, and are affordable (or even free) can help make these leaps of faith easier on the digestion.

The ability to offer online meetings is definitely one of those options that churches would like have but balk at it because of cost and how little it may be used. Fear not! There is an option that gives some of the benefits of GoToMeeting but at the cost of Skype (that’s free, by the way). It’s called join.me.

online meetingjoin.me is built by LogMeIn who connects millions of people to their devices, data, and apps every day. Their basic plan, which is free, offers you the ability to connect 10 people to a meeting, plus these features:

  • Mobile apps – works with iOS and Android.
  • Screen sharing – show your desktop to participants.
  • File transfer – send files to each other during the meeting.
  • Internet calling – connect through Voice over IP.
  • Share control – can give control of organizer’s screen to others, one person at a time.

For an annual bill of less than $13 a month, you get some nice extras:

  • Up to 250 participants
  • Unlimited audio – free international calls and meeting access via phone.
  • Share a window – choose a window to share, and keep the rest private. All alerts, email notifications, and third-party chats will be hidden.
  • Presenter swap – let someone else show his/her screen and become the presenter. Works with PC, Mac, or iPad.
  • Meeting lock – control who sees your screen.
  • Annotation – everyone can mark up the screen. As the presenter, you can take a snapshot of the screen for your records and clear the screen to start fresh again.
  • Record your meeting – record audio and visual and store it in LogMeIn’s cloud, Cubby.

If you want to have online meetings or have staff, committee members, parents, or teens attend an in-person meeting they might have otherwise missed, join.me is a great option for parishes looking for a simple needs solution or are limited by their budget. Nervous about trying it? Liturgical Publications, Inc. uses it for their online meetings across the country. Give it a try!

ABCya

Toolset: ABCya.com

One of my favorite animation tools, xtranormal, is now defunct (but watch for a renewed animation environment at  nawmal, xtranormal‘s purchasing group). In fact, I’m finding that many favorites are disappearing as the excitement of online tools wanes, and companies look toward mobile app development to invest their time and resources. However, there are still online learning sites that provide easy tools for youngsters to create storytelling graphics while learning rudimentary media literacy skills. I was very pleased to see Joyce Donahue’s post about one animation tool called Wimeo. Since I like to built a repertoire of different tools to answer different needs, I continued to scour the web for easy animation tools for youngsters… and oldsters like myself.

Enter ABCya‘s suite of learning tools for the younger set. ABCya was developed by a teacher who created this wonderful site because, as a new teacher looking for online resources for children, he found himself “in a never ending labyrinth of sites for kids loaded with violence, nested links, difficult navigation, and subscription fees!”

ABCya is an online collection of educational games for the younger set. Two in particular caught my eye for creating.

Creed Word Cloud

A word cloud is a, well, cloud of words! A famous word cloud tool, Wordle, is the subject of an earlier post. ABCya has a simple version geared for youngsters. They click the empty screen to start, type or paste words into a box, and click the arrow on the bottom right to create the cloud. There you can set the number of words to be shown, filter out common words, and change the color, layout and font of the cloud. I played with it by copying a Creed from on online source, created the cloud, and noted the largest words, which occur most often. You can then save the cloud as a graphic to use in a PowerPoint, or even as a background for the animation you can create using the next tool:

 

Getting back to xtranormal (click here for my “sniff!“, my face drawn in ABCya’s Color, Draw & Paint, and imported as a background for a Make an Animation clip) I’ve found that the animation maker in ABCya has its own charm. It is really for the younger set, but I must admit I was engaged for quite some time playing with its features. It is really simple… and limited. But, between WORD CLOUDS FOR KIDS (or ABCya’s Color, Draw & Paint) and MAKE AN ANIMATION, your students can create creative animated gifs, the file type that can be played in any browser, and thus can readily be embedded in your parish or school website. If you need to turn an ABCya animation into a movie for inclusion in Animoto video creation, Moviemaker (Windows), iMovie (Mac), or to upload it to YouTube as I did above… you can convert the gif to a video file using the video converter tool at Online-Convert.com.

I took the word cloud above and made a gif that you can see by clicking here.

Here is a video tutorial of using Make an Animation to create my non-award winning Sniff gif.

 

If you like these suggestions, click the “Like” button.  Once you engage your students with these tools, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Remind 101

Tool: Remind 101

One of the more daunting tasks in church ministry is good communication. So much of the church world is dependent on volunteers to come in and make things go. The reality is that these people have their own lives, and occasionally forget some of their commitments to their churches. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to instantly connect with a specific group of people to remind them of meetings coming up or service commitments, broadcast time change alerts, or post last minute cancelations, without worrying about whether or not they opened their email? There is! It’s called Remind 101.

Remind 101 is designed specifically for schools, but the applications are very useful for parish work.

Benefits:

  • Privacy – There is no exchange of phone numbers. Remind 101 sets you up with a dummy phone number that recipients see, and you never see their number. Also, texting is one way and only in groups. People will not be able to respond to your reminders. This is a huge benefit in the current safe environment climate we face.
  • Ease of use – Remind 101 is incredibly intuitive. Your recipients only have to read texts. Joining your group is as easy as sending a text. Management on your end is a snap and you can do it from your phone, tablet, or laptop/desktop. Beyond this, you can schedule your texts so you post your reminders at your convenience.
  • Multiple groups – Everyone in ministry works with more than one group. You can manage multiple groups from your one account. A history of your reminders is also kept so you know what was sent to who.
  • It’s free! – Enough said!

Applications:

  • Meeting reminders
  • Service work reminders
  • Schedule reminders for liturgy ministers such as lectors and servers
  • Time change alerts
  • Cancelation alerts due to bad weather

These are just a few possibilities. I’m sure you can think of more. My advice, give Remind 101 a test spin and see if you like it. No cost, no commitment. You truly have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by trying this out. Check out this video to learn more about Remind 101 in the classroom.

Click here if you cannot see the video below.

Big Huge Labs – A Bunch of Cool Tools

Tool: Big Huge Labs

Big Huge Labs is a collection of online tools for creating all sorts of fun things for Catechetics… and Evangelization, too. My two favorites are the “Motivator” and the “Magazine Cover” creator. Here is an example of each:

Motivator

februariesYou’ve seen lots of Motivational Posters… and some De-Motivational Posters. Motivator provides a chance for you and your learners to fill the online world with uplifting motivational posters that proclaim the Reign of God, and gives examples of what it takes to see it, and to make it happen. Upload a photo, graphic, or scanned image, and supply the Title and Sub-Title. Then download the finished product for posting, printing or “PowerPoint”ing.

Here is a super quick tutorial:

Magazine Cover Creator

"Swimmer has a Vocation" Magazine CoverIf you are leading your learners through an exploration of their vocations, you may want to have them create a magazine cover describing their gifts and talents. Or, you may want to create them yourself as a surprise for them. They will find they do have unique gifts, and exploring them is one step in discerning what God is calling them to be and do.

Simply go to Magazine Cover Creator, upload a photo of your learner, follow the instructions and click create. You can download the finish magazine cover for posting, printing or “PowerPoint”ing.

Here is a super quick tutorial:

Don’t forget to play with the other available tools at Big Huge Labs, including Mosaic Maker, Photobooth, Movie Poster, FX, and more! You can upload photos… but don’t forget you can create other graphics using lots of other media, then upload them and create wonderful new ways of proclaiming the Story of the Reign of God!

Using Google Forms and Flubaroo

Flubaroo

Flubaroo is a really cool tool that can be used in conjunction with Google forms to self-correct forms/quizzes/questions which basically means less work for us teachers. However, having used Flubaroo in the classroom I found it had many more advantages. For starters, it allows flipped learning to occur at home and grades to be recorded.

Flipped learning is the new buzz word de jour in relation to pedagogical practice. If one types into the phrase into Google, one will find a myriad of resources. However, the following link offers a good description of the practice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flip_teaching

Ted Education features lots of flip lessons: and one can gain a lot of inspiration from these lessons and how they might adapt these ideas using Google Forms &Flubaroo to flip their lesson. (Please note TED Ed lesson do not use Google forms or Flubaroo)

I used both of these tools (Google forms and Flubaroo) when teaching the Good Samaritan parable to a group of first year students (12-13 years old). I chose a nice video version of this parable from YouTube.

I copied and pasted this YouTube link into the description box of a Google Form and instructed my students to watch the video and then answer the questions that followed for homework. My students really liked this type of assignment for homework as from their point of view it required a lot less writing than normal. They liked the fact that they got to watch a cartoon clip for homework but that learning was now being turned into a game in that they had questions to answer! It wasn’t just passive viewing.

From my point of view, I had a way of measuring whether or not learning was taking place. I found that the use of an AV helped the weaker kids in the classroom and learning was enhanced. One point for consideration for any teacher considering to use this as a more engaging and meaningful way of doing homework is you have to find out if everyone has internet access or not. If students don’t have internet access, you might bring students to the computer lab and complete this assignment either as a class activity or a class test, it doesn’t necessarily have to be used as a homework assignment.

Google forms used in conjunction with Flubaroo can be used to flip a lesson. Flipping a lesson can be the precursor to more deep and meaningful learning.

You can watch this video to see how to create a Google form.

Give it to students to complete. I normally embed the Google Form into the class blog.

Here is an example of the Google form that I used.

Here is another example that I used with a second year group.

It is important that the teacher completes that assignment also so their submission will act as the answer key. Once the assignment is completed, open up your Google form and click on the responses tab. This will open up a spreadsheet of the students’ answers. You should also be able to see your submission and once you have install Flubaroo, you will identify this as the answer key against which all other submissions will be graded against.

Installing Flubaroo

You can also watch how to install and use Flubaroo on the following YouTube.

Alternatively, you could print out the these instructions.

Once installed, the Flubaroo tab should always appear across the top of every new spreadsheet document of responses. Click Flubaroo and it will ask you to identify the answer key to grade all other submissions against. This will be the teacher’s own submission. Click on this and hey presto, you’re done! It will give you back your students’ grades as a percentage. Magic!

I found the use of Google forms and Flubaroo an effective way to introduce flipped learning into my classroom. Everybody has heard of the old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, I wished someone would coin a truism for the use of an effective video clip in that it impacts on us visually, aurally and emotionally. By using Google forms and Flubaroo, the workload is reduced and learning is enhanced.

GroupMe

Tool: GroupMe

One of the more fun things about ministry is gathering groups of people together for a variety of functions: prayer groups, bible study, mission trips, service projects, annual events, etc. A couple of challenging aspects of running or participating in these communities is coordinating and communicating effectively, especially on the fly or in last minute situations. One to one and group text messaging has really helped in this aspect, but depending on your phone or data plan, accomplishing this task could be cumbersome or expensive. There is a free app out there, however, that can help deal with these issues. It’s called GroupMe.

logo[1]GroupMe (part of the Skype family) provides free group text messaging for anyone who has downloaded the app. It works on the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone platforms and can be used to text from your computer or tablet as well. Don’t have a smartphone? No problem. GroupMe is able to work over Short Message Service (SMS) texting phones, too, which means that any older phone that can text will still suffice. Some of the features include the ability to send photos, “like” posts, share locations, direct message one person in your group(s), “mute” conversations that you no longer want to follow, or text specific members of your group(s) rather than everyone.

The ministry applications are pretty straight forward. If you have a group of people that need to communicate with each other or the organizer needs to contact regularly, GroupMe is a very convenient way to do that. So why not just use group email? Not everyone is near a computer to check emails, but their phones are usually on them. Older phones may not receive email. Depending on data plans, email and texts cost money to receive and send. Texts are instantaneous; emails need to wait for the browser to refresh if the receiver doesn’t know it is coming. This concept is extremely important for emergency situations or last minute change of plans.

There are some things to be aware of before going the GroupMe route. One is a group size limitation of 25. This is to prevent spammers from bothering your groups. If you contact their support, GroupMe will work with you on expanding the size limitation. Another concern is anyone who will receive texts from any group through SMS (that is, without the GroupMe app). Without the features of the app, there is no user control. Everything the group sends goes to them and everything they send goes to the group. A talkative group could get expensive depending on the person’s data plan. If possible, have everyone in your group download the app.

Coordinating and communicating with groups can be challenging at times. Check out GroupMe. It could be the solution you are looking for.

SignUpGenius

Tool: SignUpGenius

Volunteer sign-up and organization: the burden of any ministry within any church. Recruiting, availability, scheduling, rescheduling, phone calling, and follow-up phone calling eat up a lot of valuable time. Wouldn’t it be easier to create a sign-up sheet online and email parishioners to volunteer rather than try to track them down at mass or by phone? The truth is there are a number of online tools that allow you to do this such as SignUpGenius.

 SignUpGenius

SignUpGenius is a free service, which, of course, means online ads. The ads are provided through Google, and any questionable advertising is filtered out, which is important if you plan on using this tool with teens. An ad free version is available for a small fee.

SignUpGenius provides themed templates, including ones specifically for churches, that can be customized with images and logos allowing the user to create content with a WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”) interface. Sign-up formatting is flexible offering traditional sign-ups; non-date specific forms for ongoing lists; and options for RSVPs, limited or unlimited quantities and comment fields.

As the administrator of the sign-up pages, you can opt for password protection, limit page access to particular groups, and offer a name only option for people nervous about providing their email addresses. SignUpGenius does not sell or distribute email addresses to third parties. In addition you have the ability to use bulk email for easy communication through a saved address book that can be exported to Excel. You can also defer management of any list to another user for the times you want to distribute responsibility to other people plus other helpful administrative tools.

On the user side, SignUpGenius pages can be integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest along with calendars such as Outlook, iCal, and Google. Volunteers can also receive automated email reminders and text reminders as well as edit and swap with other users for schedule changes.

Check out this video to see how easy SignUpGenius is to use:

 

 

So in which ways can a church use SignUpGenius? Whenever you need people to volunteer for a ministry, such as reading at mass; organize what people are bringing to a gathering, such as a potluck dinner; schedule people for any reason throughout the year, such as cantors for mass or snacks for religious ed. classes; or track donations desired and given for an event, such as a mission trip.

Churches depend heavily on volunteers for many aspects of everyday parish life. Trying to recruit and organize those people can be a taxing chore. SignUpGenius can help ease the load of some of your ministerial duties.

WeGather

Tool: WeGather

Answer this question: What is the #1 goal of any church? Answer: To build community. To help in this mission, there are many wonderful tools available through the Internet to share information and socialize. But perhaps with all those different tools, you feel a bit overwhelmed. One ministry group communicates on Facebook, another on Google Plus, and yet another through Yahoo! Groups. For some people, it can get very confusing trying to remember which group is where, especially if you are the organizer of many ministry teams and events. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a tool that allowed you to organize your entire parish’s social groups and ministries, sent email from centralized lists, shared a single calendar that filters events based on group, and allowed your parishioners to socialize online in a safe and secure environment? Wouldn’t it be even better if it were free? Guess what? There is such a tool! It’s called WeGather.

WeGather

WeGather was developed by Liturgical Publications, Inc. (LPi), who are well known for their production and distribution of church bulletins. Over the last few years, LPi has developed web tools specifically for parishes including website templates and online giving. WeGather is their answer to social networking that meets the needs and concerns of a church community.

Liturgical Publications, Inc.

Here are the main features:

  • Provides a safe, secure environment – A church administrator approves all membership requests so only authorized people have access to the site. Secondary administrators can be given access to maintain particular groups and ministries.
  • Centralizes email lists for easy updating and distributing information.
  • Organizes ministries and committees by “groups.” Only members of each group can see information specifically for them but can be shared publicly (any authorized site member) if desired.
  • Provides a centralized calendar of events. Information shown on the calendar can either be group specific or shared publicly.
  • Allows members to easily post and share documents, photos, and videos specific to each group or publicly.
  • Provides members the ability to create their profiles and control which information is available to fellow parishioners.

Again, the core system of WeGather is free but does offer some optional “modules” available on a monthly subscription basis:

  • Online giving via WeShare, LPi’s online giving and event registration program. WeShare can easily be integrated with WeGather.
  • Service Opportunities-promote your volunteer needs where members can easily sign up for volunteer opportunities of interest
  • Additional Storage for documents and media

So, why use WeGather over other online tools?

  • A clean, professional look that is easy to navigate for the casual computer user.
  • A web based tool specifically designed for churches.
  • The privacy of each parish and its members is strictly maintained. No information is sold or given to third parties of any kind.
  • LPi working to build additional modules to plug into WeGather.

WeGather is a very powerful –and absolutely free –communication tool for any church and its members. If you are part of a parish that is looking to organize all of its online ministry outreach and communication in one place, check out WeGather and feel free to leave a comment on how it works for your church.